It's not just the economy that's in a slump. Mainstream music also is in a recession.
It used to be that I was always able to turn to the indie scene for fresh beats, bands, rhymes and guitar riffs. But with the Internet now largely replacing the experience of rummaging through racks of records at stores such as Dr. Wax and Reckless Records (thankfully, Reckless still is open), the floodgates have been opened for a litany of new material, a lot of which sucks.
Yes, the rise of digital music distribution has given a voice to acts that, say, 10 years ago may never have had a chance to be heard. But with pretty much no barriers to entry either, it leaves music lovers vulnerable to some of the most talentless excuses for artists around. No more proving yourself—all you have to do now is post yourself.
Among the hip-hop set, there's a disease that artists have developed in which they feel that if the public doesn't like their music that everybody is "hating" on them. The classic "it's them not me" approach. If, let's say, MC Get-A-Lot-Of-Money drops a mixtape called "I Get a Lot of Money" and nobody digs the music, it could just be that it's wack. Period. Common said it best on his track "The Sixth Sense": "If I don't like it, I don't like it, that don't mean that I'm hating."
This disease also has infected the rock world. If, let's say, Emo Head Trip drops a 7-inch titled "Feelings That I Feel When I'm Feeling" and no one gets it, it's not because the band is so deep and in tune with itself. It could have to do with the fact that it's just not that good.
Rappers and rockers both try to lean on the indie moniker as if the listening public hasn't quite caught up to their talent yet, but I don't buy it. The truth is not everyone is meant to be a rapper or a rocker.
While blogs and Web zines are great places to discover the next artist on the verge, there's really no one editing these blogs for quality of music. Pretty much any artist can get posted on many blogs for the sake of having new content or not being the last place to post a track by a popular indie act, which leaves fans to fend for themselves in distinguishing the good from the bad and just plain ugly. And with many indie acts forgoing physical releases altogether, it's far more difficult than years past to just stumble upon a great artist.
With that being said, I still will continue to mine blogs, YouTube and Twitter for the next big thing. It's just going to be a lot more work.
ANTHONY ROBERTS IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR.